Military News

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Face of Defense: Alaska Soldiers Learn to Prevent Suicide

By Army Staff Sgt. Mylinda Durousseau

1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska, Oct. 11, 2013 – ACE can be a card in a game of poker, a word used to describe a pilot, or the name of a hardware store, but for soldiers it is a way to help prevent suicide.

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Army 1st Lt. Craig Dolhi, an armor officer with 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, reads over information during the Army's Ask, Care and Escort suicide intervention training Oct. 2-4, 2013. The program, which has been redesigned this year, teaches ways to identify risk factors for suicide and warning signs, as well as to help understand and deal with stigmas often associated with suicide. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Patrick Bracken
  

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Soldiers from 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division attended the Army’s new Ask, Care and Escort suicide intervention training Oct. 2-4 in an effort to give them the tools to assist in the prevention of suicide among their fellow soldiers.

The program, which has been redesigned this year, teaches ways to identify risk factors for suicide and warning signs, as well as to help understand and deal with stigmas often associated with suicide, said Joe O’Conner, an ACE-SI facilitator.

“It taught you how to ask [in case] you were not familiar with asking a soldier if they were thinking about suicide,” said Sgt. Kimberly Pass, with the 1-25 SBCT’s chaplain’s office. “It gave you different avenues of approach. It also taught you that if you are having thoughts of suicide it is OK to seek help.”

Recent changes to the training include reading scenarios and discussing how to respond as well as role-playing to help soldiers understand a variety of situations they may face and how to intervene and possibly prevent a suicide. The information covered was also updated to include new mobile phone applications that offer tools for suicide prevention.
“It is good for the average soldier,” Pass said. “We’ve learned since basic training to help your buddy out, this is just another part of being that listening ear or helping hand that everyone needs.”

Sgt. 1st Class Stefan Falls, 1-25 SBCT tactical assault command platoon sergeant, attended previous versions of the training and has also been to the Army’s Master Resilience Training, but said that he gained new information from this course as well.

“All soldiers should be made aware of any options open to them in regards to suicide prevention,” Falls said.

The six-hour training program went beyond the annual suicide-prevention training all soldiers are required to attend, and taught them how to take the knowledge back to their unit and teach it to others. Many of those in attendance were chaplains and their assistants, but the training was also offered to junior leaders and first-line supervisors.

Raven soars Idaho skies

by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/11/2013 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho  -- Two Marines with the 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) demonstrated the capabilities of the RQ-11B Raven unmanned aerial system during a Mountain Roundup exercise Oct. 9, 2013, at the Saylor Creek Range.

The Raven is a small, hand-launched, remote-controlled system which provides day and night real-time video imagery, reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition.

"The Raven is used for taking photos and video of enemy positions," said Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Thompson, 1st ANGLICO forward observer from Clinton, Iowa. "We can easily fly it into places where the enemy may or may not be, in order to gather strategic reconnaissance information."

The smallest of ANGLICO's unmanned aerial systems, the Raven has a wingspan of four feet-six inches, weighs four pounds, has a flight endurance of 60-90 minutes and an effective operational radius of approximately 6.2 miles.

"We utilize the Raven system as a tool to keep Marines and our coalition partners safe," said Marine Lance Cpl. William Thornton, 1st ANGLICO forward observer from San Bernardino, Calif. "With this device there isn't a need to send a squad into an unknown area. They could potentially walk into a trap or spend large amounts of time getting to the objective point, only to find zero enemy intelligence."

During their last deployment, Marines assigned to 1st ANGLICO worked with the British Army, Afghan National Army, and several other units from various nations.

"As 1st ANGLICO, we are attached to other units regularly and we utilize the Raven as a way for us to keep those fire-teams safe and give them as much information as possible," Thornton said. "It's a stealthy, reconnaissance tool which, when used correctly, can assist in bringing everyone home safe and ultimately winning the battle."

One key factor of the Raven's tactical usefulness is how quickly it can be put together and then operated.

"One of the main reasons why it's such a valuable asset is because two Marines can assemble and then operate it within 10 minutes," Thornton said. "Once it's in the air, we immediately begin tracking enemy movements and relaying enemy locations. We pull the video feed into the combat operations center and are able to keep leadership up-to-date on friendly and enemy grid locations as well as targeting information. The Raven is so incredibly stealthy that many times the enemy doesn't realize it's even there."

During Mountain Roundup, which is part of German Air Force Tornado Fighter Weapons Instructor Course Mission Employment Phase, 1st ANGLICO Marines are utilizing the system in-front of forward fire-teams.

"We are using it for extremely specialized training here at Mountain Roundup," Thornton said. "After our forward teams move-out, we can launch the Raven to specific grid sites and have eyes on what the teams will encounter within minutes. We can track both friendly and opposition forces while keeping high enough so no one is aware of its presence. If they are looking at a grid and cannot make out the images, we fly the Raven over the area and alert our teams on what the threat-level is."

The history of ANGLICO goes all the way back to World War 2, when they first began doing close-air support missions and continued into Korea and Vietnam, when they began partnering with other nations and into modern times.

"As 1st ANGLICO we are attached to other units regularly and we utilize the Raven as a way for us to keep those fire-teams safe and give them as much information as possible," Thornton said. "It's a stealthy, reconnaissance tool which assists us during battle and ultimately helps us win."

Reservists, National Guard Members Wait for Training Funds

By Lisa A. Ferdinando
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2013 – The Army Reserve and the National Guard say they are on standby to see what happens in Congress, as they wait for the resumption of funding for inactive and active-duty training, or IDT and ADT.


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Members of the 448th Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve Puerto Rico, during a change of command ceremony at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, Sept 21, 2013. U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Ivan Melendez
  

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The cancellation of the IDT and ADT training is affecting readiness and hurting the soldiers, said Capt. Eric Connor, deputy chief for public information with the Army Reserve Command.

"One of our pillars is resiliency," Connor said. "We have to stay Army Strong in terms of just making sure we get through all of this because we are all in this together as a team."

The exception to the cancellation includes soldiers who are supporting mobilization or combatant command exercises, he said.

About 700 soldiers have been affected by the cancellation of classes at developmental schools, Connor said.

Other areas impacted by the partial government shutdown, he said, are maintenance and the shipping and transfer of equipment.

While some Army Reserve personnel have been called back to duty, Connor said, they don't have new equipment needed for maintenance.

"They're actually just working with what they have," he said. "If they need new parts to make repairs, that's not taking place.”

The government furlough “has caused a loss of some 23,500 man-hours, putting a backlog of about 3.5 days when it comes to maintenance," Connor said.

Some soldiers are put in a difficult situation financially, he said.

"Some of them live paycheck-to-paycheck, and a lot of them rely on the money from drills just to pay their light bills and put food on the table right now," Connor said.

"We are working with our leaders and trying to see if in the future we can have them RST (rescheduled training) and have them make up these drills in order to get them back on the right track," he said.

Drills are critical to the training and development of soldiers on individual skills or on equipment, physical training and weapons qualifications, he said.

"Just last week we had some 75,000 soldiers who were impacted by their drills being canceled at a tune of $46.3 million," he said. "Right now, if that continues for the rest of the month, that number could almost double to some $89 million."

Reservists can contact Fort Family at www.ARFP.org, or call toll-free at 866-345-8248, for information and support during this time, Connor said.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, the chief of the Army Reserve and the commanding general of the Army Reserve Command, said each member of the Army Reserve family is affected by the shutdown in different ways.

"We are in a historic period for our nation and it is terrible that such severe measures have been taken that so deeply affect our civilian workforce, soldiers, and our families," Talley said.

"Please know that I have the highest respect for each of you, for your service, and your commitment to America's Army," he said. "I ask you to stay Army Strong and we will get through this together."

The chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, underscored the importance of the men and women of the Army National Guard and Air National Guard.

"Despite the unfortunate turmoil to your personal lives, please know that every person in uniform is privileged to serve alongside you and would never diminish your contributions," Grass said.

"Unfortunately drill/IDT periods are not authorized during the shutdown unless they are supporting excepted activities," he said. "For specific guidance on this and ADOS (active duty operational support) positions, please consult your chain of command."

National Guard Bureau spokesman Army Maj. Jon Craig said the shutdown has stopped a wide range of activities that include administrative actions, annual medical requirements, operational training events and maintenance on vehicles.

"Soldiers aren't going to the rifle range; pilots aren't able to fly the helicopters or their jets," he said. "Without training, the continuity of the training that normally would go on isn't happening."

Craig recommended members check the National Guard website, http://www.nationalguard.mil, or the Department of Defense's website, http://www.defense.mil for the most up-to-date information on the shutdown.

Local, Utah Guard Members Aid Colorado Flood Response

By Army Capt. Adam Musil
36th Infantry Division

AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 11, 2013 – The 36th Infantry Division's Domestic All-Hazards Response Team-West continues to coordinate assistance requests and support for the Colorado flood relief effort.


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A military hydraulic excavator belonging to the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Infantry Division supports the Colorado flood relief efforts. Courtesy photo by Domestic All-Hazards Response Team-West
  

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"The floods have stopped, but the damage that remains provides huge problems for the people in the area," said Army Capt. Robert Anspaugh, the planner for Domestic All-Hazards Response Team-West, or DART-W. "The type of destruction ranges from simple road damage to roads being completely washed away, leaving large craters. Some people can't get to their homes and are having to backpack-in fuel and food."

The DART-W was notified of the flood weeks ago during a training exercise focused on hurricane and flood response. Within a few days of the notification, DART-W had soldiers on the ground to assist with coordinating the relief effort. DART-W helped establish the reception, staging, and onward movement centers for incoming troops and assessed unit capability gaps.

"Once we established the needs of the mission, we reached out to Guard units in the surrounding areas for additional support. The Utah National Guard will be the first to assist the Colorado units already in place," Anspaugh said.

The Colorado National Guard's 947 Engineer Company was the first to respond to the floods. The unit was activated Sept. 20. Within 48 hours, they were filling damaged roads. The Utah National Guard will provide additional engineers and equipment to double the engineer assets. The additional manpower will enable the units to set up rotations and provide continuous operations.

"We have assembled a rotational plan of Army and Air guards that will carry through November 25," said Army 1st Sgt. Christopher Schrag, DART-W noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "This will allow the units time to complete the entire Highway 36 and take on the smaller side roads before the major impact of the weather."

With already one snow this season, officials believe snow and cold weather will greatly hinder the units' ability to restore the roads.

"Realistically, we have until about the end of November to get all the roads fixed before the weather gets too bad," Anspaugh said.

Schrag, who returned early this week from Colorado, believes procedures have been set in place to provide for an effective response.

"This operation is a Joint Guard initiative. We have Guard units from two states [Colorado, Utah] on the ground now and Air and Army Guard units from an additional seven states [Kansas, Tennessee, New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana, Florida, Virginia] set to rotate in. I'm confident we can get the job done," Schrag said.

Comprised of Texas Army National Guard soldiers, the DART-W, based in Austin, Texas, at Camp Mabry, is responsible for synchronizing the National Guard response to major hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires west of the Mississippi River.

The DART-W is one of two primary DAR headquarters. The other, DART-East is commanded by the 29th Infantry Division, and headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va. Command of each headquarters rotates annually between Army National Guard divisions. The 36th Infantry Division has been selected to lead DART-W for two years.

South Dakota National Guard Continues Storm Aid


South Dakota National Guard

RAPID CITY, S.D., Oct. 11, 2013 – South Dakota National Guard members continue to support the state after the Oct. 4 winter storm that crippled western South Dakota.


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South Dakota National Guard soldiers assist an electrical crew with setting a utility pole near Faith, S.D., Oct. 10, 2013. Army National Guard photo
  

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Nearly 50 soldiers and airmen have been called to state active duty to support residents since Oct. 5. They’ve helped to clear roads, remove snow and assist electrical cooperative crews with gaining access to locations needing power lines repaired.
 
More than a dozen other full-time National Guard members have also provided support to state active-duty personnel in response to the storm. So far, 19 separate missions have been requested of the Guard since operations began.

Eight missions are complete and the Guard expects to continue to assist electric companies in power restoration efforts for the next seven to 10 days.

Guard forces and equipment began responding immediately after the blizzard and sent to locations hardest hit in Harding, Meade, Perkins and Pennington counties. Equipped with snow blowers, front-end loaders, bulldozers, heavy expanded mobility tactical trucks and Humvees, Guard members were dispatched locally and from across the state to help communities dig out from the record-breaking storm.

“Our soldiers and airmen are proud to be able to respond to local emergencies such as this,” said Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch, adjutant general of the SDNG. “Our service in a state active-duty status like this is foundational to what the National Guard is all about.”

Across the region, snow totals averaged 30 inches, with some isolated areas recording almost five feet, setting new snowfall records for October in the Black Hills and many western counties. Snow accumulation, along with freezing temperatures and wind gusts up to 70 mph, downed thousands of tree limbs and electrical power lines, blocked roadways and decimated livestock caught in the storm.

Emergency management officials from multiple counties requested support from the state’s emergency management office and the governor, who declared a state of emergency and activated National Guard forces to assist.

The call for Guard assistance came early Oct. 5 and coordination began immediately to bring in personnel and dig out equipment. With roads nearly impassable and no travel advised, several soldiers trekked on foot several miles to reach the Guard headquarters on Camp Rapid in Rapid City to set up operations. Soldiers also trudged through deep snow in the towns of Belle Fourche and Sturgis to begin opening equipment yards. From across the state, Guard personnel from units in Aberdeen, Mobridge, Sioux Falls and Yankton were dispatched to deliver equipment and to assist recovery efforts.

According to local power companies, more than 38,000 customers lost electricity during the storm and reported more than 3,800 downed power poles.

While snow removal missions are complete, the Guard continues to support power crews who are working from house to house to restore electricity in rural areas, working alongside them pulling electrical bucket trucks out of the snow and mud after they work on a utility pole.
Guard units providing state active duty personnel to the storm recovery efforts include Alpha and Bravo Batteries of the 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion, 109th Regional Support Group, 842nd Engineer Company, 200th Engineer Company, 155th Engineer Company, Joint Force Headquarters and the 114th Fighter Wing.

Readiness Week: Displaying excellence

by Airman 1st Class Soo C. Kim
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/11/2013 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- As the military faces fiscal uncertainty, members of the 374th Airlift Wing spent the week showing that they're still conducting their mission as the primary airlift hub for the Western Pacific during Readiness Week.

Going through multiple preparations and emergency scenarios, Yokota Air Base completed its Readiness Week, Oct. 7 - 11, 2013, showcasing its ability to provide swift and flawless airlift support in the western Pacific region, regardless of any difficulties that may come in its way.

The exercise began with joint training between the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, as they worked hand-in-hand preparing both cargo and aircraft for a simulated deployment.

Following the preparation, Yokota Airmen received base defensive skills training and ability to survive and operate training, which included: self-aid buddy care, decontamination and post attack reconnaissance.

The exercise ended with an active shooter and a chemical spill scenario.

"The emergency management exercise had two main objectives. First, we wanted to verify the training for active shooter and second, we wanted to assess our emergency operation center's ability to handle two simultaneous events on the base," said Col. Clarence Lukes, the vice commander of the 374 AW. "We threw an engaging exercise scenario and the wing performed well at both."

Readiness Week also provided Yokota leadership the opportunity to roll out the new Air Force Wing Inspection Team program, which focuses on small groups of experts who test Airmen's ability to conduct their mission under various circumstances.

The new program replaces the previous Inspector General inspections, which consisted of larger groups from outside the installation, a move that saves the Air Force money and gives the accountability back to the wings according to Maj. Yancey Walker, 374th Wing Safety director.

"Traditionally, we had IG inspectors descend on a base to ensure we are complying with the Air Force regulations," said Maj. Yancey Walker, the director of inspections for the 374th AW. "The new way we are going forward is using our own experts internally as agents to ensure the commander has the accurate picture of what's going on and also we can relay the best information up to Pacific Air Force to put that burden of compliance back on the commander."

Overall the scenarios and the training over the course of Readiness Week were a great success according to Lukes.

"We met many of our objectives, including the training of our WIT. We fell short on some, but there's always a room for improvement," Lukes said. "Readiness week is over but we have to stay vigilant. Being an airlifter means we always have to be on watch and I'm extremely proud of our Airmen and the job they have done this week and the part they play in being the best wing in the Pacific."

Fitness matters: physical fitness changes a Hickam Airman's life

by Staff Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Tech. Sgt. Andrea Conn, a 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing budget analyst, was an average Airman when it came to physical fitness. Her PT scores weren't terrible, but she was 50 pounds overweight and unhappy with what she saw in the mirror, so she decided to turn her life around. That was just one year ago.      
"I was running the minimum three times per week for squadron PT but I was 4" 11' and overweight and didn't like what I saw in the mirror," said Conn. "I was always the slowest one in the group, my husband was deployed and I was very stressed out and felt like I really needed an outlet."
After trying a number of fad diets unsuccessfully, Conn enlisted the help of a personal trainer and turned her attention to a healthier lifestyle via dieting and exercise to lose weight.
"I really didn't have a goal weight in mind when I started," she said. "I just wanted someone to help me figure out what I needed to do as far as my diet and exercise regimen and I couldn't do it on my own; I needed one-on-one attention."
According to Conn, it was during this time she fell in love with fitness. After losing 30 pounds her trainer convinced her to take on an even bigger challenge: a body building competition.
Between 2012 and 2013 Conn placed second in two separate competitions proving she'd not only reached her fitness goal of being more physically fit, but she'd also exceeded it.
"The competitions helped me reach a good point in my life. I felt like I had finally done something great for me," she said.
Armed with this new found confidence she decided to find a way to share it with others.
"Since PCS'ing I've started working on a personal training certification," she said. "I want to pay it forward. I want to give people what my trainer gave me."
Conn said she wants to be a positive example for those who may be struggling with physical fitness like she was.
"I see a lot of frustration with PT and the test especially," she said. "People are discouraged, but they can make a change if that's what they want. If they are willing to put forth effort and adjust their way of living they can make the changes they want to see. You just have to work for it."
Conn said though she wasn't failing her PT test at the time she decided to get serious about working out, she wasn't where she needed to be physically.
"Passing a PT test doesn't mean you're physically fit," she said. "There are 364 other days a year you need to work at it. Don't wait until the last minute, identify problem areas ahead of time and start working on them early. Work to be in an overall better physical condition and being prepared for a PT test won't be an issue."
In addition to enhanced health and PT scores, Conn said getting in shape improved her overall well-being and emotional health.
"As I went through the process of getting in shape I noticed a big change in myself," she said. "I started enjoying the gym ... I was working out a lot and the more I worked out the less I felt stressed and the more energy I had. It helped me cope with my husband's deployment; I just felt great all around."
However, Conn said it took more than just exercising to help her achieve her fitness goals.
"My diet was a big problem for me before. I would eat if I was bored even if I wasn't hungry and I drank alcohol a lot," she said. "Now I choose healthier alternatives. I don't restrict myself. I have my guilty pleasures, but I work hard and I have a lot more self-control than I did before."
Conn advises any Airmen currently struggling with their PT test or overall fitness level to prepare to do a major overhaul in all areas of their life.
"Being in shape is a lifestyle change," she said. "You have to be prepared to change everything and understand it won't be easy. You might find that you're different than others around but you have to find what empowers you to want to be better. Everyone has the power to change the things they don't like about themselves and once you make the physical changes you will see the emotional and mental changes too."

Missing Airmen From Vietnam War Accounted For



The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing from the Vietnam War, have been accounted for and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robert E. Pietsch, 31, of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Maj. Louis F. Guillermin, 25, of West Chester, Pa.,will be buried as a group Oct. 16, in a single casket representing the two servicemen at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.  Guillermin's individual remains weres buried Oct. 5, 2013, in Broomall, Pa.

On April 30, 1968, Guillermin and Pietsch were on an armed-reconnaissance mission when their A-26A Invader aircraft crashed in Savannakhet Province, Laos.  Witnesses saw an explosion on the ground and did not see any signs of survivors.  Search and rescue efforts were unsuccessful, and Guillermin and Pietsch were listed as Missing in Action.

 In 1994, a joint U.S./Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) team, lead by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), surveyed the crash site in Savannakhet Province, Laos.  The team recovered human remains and evidence, but was unable to fully survey the site due to the presence of dangerous unexploded ordinance.

In 2006, joint U.S./LPDR teams assisted by Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel cleared the site and gathered additional human remains and evidence, such as personal effects and crew-related equipment.

The remains recovered were analyzed by scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory using circumstantial evidence and forensic analysis, such as mtDNA comparisons. Portions of the remains were individually identified as Guillermin through an mtDNA match from a hair sample from Guillermin's medical file.  The rest of the remains recovered were not individually identified, but correspond to both Pietsch and Guillermin.

There are more than 1,640 American service members still unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. 

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

WWII Marines Accounted For



The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that two U.S. Marines missing in action from World War II, have been accounted for and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Henry S. White, 23, of Kansas City, Mo., and Staff Sgt. Thomas L. Meek, 19, of Lisbon, La., will be buried as a group in a single casketrepresenting the two servicemen, on Oct. 18, at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

On July 21, 1943, White and Meek were crew members of an SBD-4 Dauntless dive-bomber that departed Turtle Bay Airfield on Espiritu Santo Island, New Hebrides, on a night training mission and failed to return.  During the training mission, the aircraft was reported as crashed on a coral cliff on nearby Mavea Island.  In September 1947, a U.S. Army Graves Registration Service team investigated the crash on Mavea Island, but recovered no remains. In 2012, a JPAC team excavated the crash site on Mavea Island, Republic of Vanuatu, and recovered the remains of White and Meek and non-biological evidence amid the aircraft wreckage, which included U.S. and Australian coins dating to 1942 and earlier, U.S. military captain's bars, and a military identification tag that correlates to Meek by name and service number.  What was found at the crash site, along with the remains, correlate circumstantially to White and Meek, however, no individual identifications were possible.

There are more than 400,000 American service members that were killed during WWII, and the remains of more than 73,000 were never recovered or identified.      

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

Fiscal 2013: an engaging year for Pacific Air Forces

by Master Sgt. Matthew McGovern
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


10/11/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Throughout fiscal 2013, the key aspect of Pacific Air Forces was engagement as more than 45,000 Pacific Air Forces Airmen conducted a broad spectrum of operations, from humanitarian relief to decisive combat employment, in an area covering 13 time zones and 100 million square miles.

These operations began with the inactivation of 13th Air Force and the operationalization of the Headquarters PACAF Staff, as the Air Force established its benchmark component major command (C-MAJCOM). This unified structure gives PACAF dual focus: support to an operationalized staff across the range of military operations and performance of mandated duties of organizing, training, and equipping Airmen.

Throughout the year, PACAF Airmen expanded engagements, increased combat capability and improved warfighter integration by participating in more than 25 exercises and humanitarian operations throughout the region.

"Engagement is something we are doing every day across the Asia-Pacific region," said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Pacific Air Forces. "I cannot overstate the importance of working with our allies, partners and the international community to deter aggression and to maintain peace and stability in the region."

Operation Pacific Angel is an example of PACAF's expanded engagements, as more than 275 PACAF Airmen and joint service members joined host nation military and civilian forces, multilateral military, and non-governmental organizations in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam to promote regional humanitarian assistance and disaster relief interoperability.

The PACANGEL engagements included medical, dental, optometry, and engineering programs, as well as various subject-matter expert exchanges. More than 22,000 total patients were cared for in these countries and 15 structures such as schools or medical clinics were built or refurbished during these operations.

"Partnering in operations such as Pacific Angel enhances our ability to work together and effectively respond to humanitarian disaster relief and international peacekeeping operations," said Lt. Col. Keith Gibson, commander of Pacific Angel 13-2, from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Increased combat capability was another focus this year, as exercises such as Red Flag Alaska involved more than 110 aircraft and the participation of more than 5,200 personnel from the U.S. Air Force active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and Marines, Singapore, Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. Three Red Flag multinational exercises occurred this year. The two week-long tactical air combat exercises replicated the stress warfighters face during their first 10 combat sorties of a conflict.

Expanding engagements as well as theatre security cooperation was also evident in early February as Cope North was in full swing. Participants from the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the Royal Australian Air Force focused on Large Force Employment scenarios, which enhanced the interoperability of 15 different airframes.

"During Cope North, we are able to facilitate an environment, in coordination with our international partners, which allows us to share information to decision makers," said Lt. Col. Michael Erickson, 962d Airborne Air Control Squadron commander. "This provides those on the ground and in the air the best possible situational awareness."

Besides exercises, multi-national leadership visits and exchanges also increased the situational awareness and solidified partnerships. Lt. Gen. Cha-Kyu Choi, Republic of Korea, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, visited PACAF headquarters in November to discuss ways to further improve support and cooperation between our nations' air forces.

Another significant meeting was the first-ever Medical Acupuncture and Battlefield Medicine Subject Matter Expert Exchange in Beijing, China Oct. 21-27. U.S. Air Force medical physicians attended at the invitation of China's People Liberation Army to help U.S.-China militaries increase mutual trust and understanding while sharing practices in traditional Chinese medicine.

In addition, General Carlisle hosted a 14-member Chinese People's Liberation Army of China delegation as part of an agreed upon reciprocal visit between Chinese and American military officers. During their visit, the Chinese officers received a briefing from General Carlisle on PACAF's priorities, and toured a C-17 Globemaster III.

The year closed with General Carlisle representing PACAF along with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, meeting with People's Liberation Army Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Li Chunchao, in Beijing, China, Sept. 24. The U.S. Air Force leaders visited with various military leaders in China as well as tour the Chinese Air Force Aviation Medicine Research Institute as part of a weeklong trip.

Working with our allies and partners to expand engagement is crucial to PACAF's responsibilities in the Department of Defense's largest area of responsibility.

Throughout this past fiscal year and into the next, PACAF has and will continue to work together with established allies and partners, to help build their confidence, improve combined interoperability, disrupt proliferation and provocations, and solidify joint access during contingencies and/or for throughput to critical locations across the Asia-Pacific region.

20th Air Force commander relieved of command

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, relieved Maj. Gen. Michael Carey from command of 20th Air Force today due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment.

Kowalski made his decision based on information from an Inspector General investigation into Carey's behavior during a temporary duty assignment. The allegations are not related to operational readiness or the inspection results of any 20th AF unit, nor do they involve sexual misconduct.

"20th AF continues to execute its mission of around-the-clock nuclear deterrence in a safe, secure and effective manner," Kowalski said. "It's unfortunate that I've had to relieve an officer who's had an otherwise distinctive career spanning 35 years of commendable service."

AFGSC vice commander Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein has been named the interim 20th AF commander.

Headquartered at F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., 20th AF is responsible for the nation's three intercontinental ballistic missile wings. It has dual responsibilities to AFGSC and U.S. Strategic Command. As the missile Numbered Air Force for AFGSC, 20th AF maintains and operates the nation's ICBM force. Designated as STRATCOM's Task Force 214, the command provides on-alert, combat ready ICBMs to the President.